Cover image for My war gone by, I miss it so
Title:
My war gone by, I miss it so
Author:
Loyd, Anthony.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
321 pages : maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Doubleday, 1999.
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780871137692
Format :
Book

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DR1313.3 .L69 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

An extraordinary, personal look at modern war by a young correspondent who saw its horrors firsthand, My War Gone By, I Miss It So is already being compared to the classics of war literature.

Born into a distinguished family steeped in military tradition, from his youth Anthony Loyd longed to experience the fury of war from the front lines. Driven by suicidal despair and drug dependence, the former soldier left his native England at the age of twenty-six to cover the bloodiest conflict that Europe had seen since the Second World War -- the war in Bosnia.

Nothing can prepare you for the account of war that Loyd gives. His harrowing stories from the battlefields show humanity at its worst and best, witnessed through the grim tragedies played out daily in the city, streets, and mountain villages of Bosnia and Chechnya.

Profoundly shocking, violent, poetic, and ultimately redemptive, My War Gone By, I Miss It So is an uncompromising look at the terrifying brutality of war. It is a breathtaking, soul-shattering book, an intense and moving piece of reportage that you won't put down and will never be able to forget.


Author Notes

, Anthony Loyd, 0-14-029854-1 Anthony Loyd served as a platoon commander in the British army for operations in Northern Ireland and the Persian Gulf before going to live in Bosnia. He is now a special correspondent for The Times of London, for which he has covered seven other wars, including the conflicts in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Kosovo. His most famous work is "My War is Gone by, I Miss it So."


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Loyd, a journalist and former officer in the British army with an admitted attraction to war and drugs, offers a stunning personal account of the war in Bosnia. Loyd traveled to Bosnia with a camera and no assignment, questioning whether he wasn't "a sluttish dilettante day-tripping into someone else's nightmare." When a British journalist is wounded, Loyd fills in for him and becomes a floater for other news organizations. He witnesses the absurdities and atrocities of war and meets a fascinating array of people: soldiers, civilians, journalists, snipers, bandits, black marketeers, and mercenaries, including a deserter from the French Foreign Legion who switches allegiances when he meets up with some buddies on the other side. Loyd intersperses his war accounts with recollections of visits home and a personal struggle with a heroine addiction that only takes a break when he's in Bosnia, the scene of an external hellish struggle. Loyd acknowledges the difficulty of describing the indescribable carnage and destruction of war, but is eloquent in his efforts, nonetheless. --Vanessa Bush


Publisher's Weekly Review

"It was not necessarily that I had `found myself' during the war, but the conflict had certainly put a kind of buffer zone between the fault lines in my head." Writing with a combat veteran's dark knowledge and a seasoned war correspondent's edgy, hesitant desire to cling to some sort of confidence in humanity, Loyd delivers a searing firsthand account of the war in Bosnia that successfully blends autobiographical confession and war reportage. Loyd, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War (where he was a platoon commander), was deep into suicidal depression and heavy drinking when, at 26, he left London for war-torn Bosnia in 1993 (he got assignments for British newspapers and is now a Times of London correspondent). After returning to England in 1995 by way of Chechnya, he sank into heroin addiction before pulling himself together and returning to cover the Balkan carnage through 1996. He admits to a grim fascination with war as the ultimate frontier of human experience. Just when a reader begins to feel that Loyd is too cynical and detached, a scorchingly lyrical passage will illuminate the Balkan war in all its anarchic horror. While Loyd finds plenty of guilt all around, he is highly sympathetic to the Bosnian Muslims, approves of NATO's bombing of the Serbs and chastises U.N. troops for standing idly by while thousands of Muslims were slaughtered in Srebrenica, a designated U.N. "safe area." On the autobiographical front, he attributes his immersion in war to his hostile relationship with his intimidating father, and to his family's complex web of national and ethnic origins (Austrian, English, Belgian, Egyptian, Jewish). Not like any other book on the Yugoslav war, his gripping, viscerally subjective chronicle puts a human face on the tragedy as it mourns the strangled soul of multiethnic Bosnia. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Loyd, a war correspondent for the Times of London and a former British army officer, recounts his experiences as an independent journalist in embattled Bosnia-Herzegovina. Reared on his family's tradition of military glory and impelled by drug dependence, he sought the "high" of battle in the only war available. The stark, often lyrical quality of his prose accentuates the surreal atmosphere of wartime in Bosnia, "a playground where the worst and most fantastic excesses of the human mind were acted on." Loyd's account blends personal revelation with biting commentary on diplomacy and war. By turns horrifying, contemplative, and savagely funny, this memoir captures the peculiar ferocity of ethnic and religious civil strife. Particular targets of his scorn are the UN and European officials whose indecisiveness and moral relativism inhibited an effective response to the slaughter. This unforgettable work ranks with the great modern accounts of war and should be in every library.ÄJames Holmes, Fletcher Sch. of Law & Diplomacy, Medford, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

PROLOGUE: THE FOREST Srebrenica, Summer 1996 There were places among the crowded trees where the birdsong dropped away to nothing, shaded clearings with a sound vacuum: once you had stepped in no noise could reach you from the outside world except the rustling summer breeze, and you did not want to listen to that too carefully, for if you were alone your mind began to play tricks and it was more than just the grass that you heard whispering. The bones lay strewn for miles through this woodland, paper-chasing a rough path eastwards across the hills from Srebrenica, the trail breaking then restarting in a jumbled profusion where a last stand had been made or a group of those too wounded or exhausted to go on had been found. The whole area was saturated with the legacy of the killing. There were mass graves in the valleys where prisoners had been herded, executed, then covered with a casual layer of earth which one year later was still heavy and reeking with decay. Elsewhere, more poignantly, there were solitary skeletons hidden in the undergrowth, individuals who had tried to make it out alone but had been hunted down and their lives chipped or shot from them. Even the roadsides bore tributes to the events of the previous summer. Beside one junction a skeleton in a pinstripe suit lay tangled around a concrete post. Among the bundle of collapsed bones fast being reclaimed to the earth by brambles and moss you could see that the man's arms had been bound to the post with wire. Whatever had happened to him, it was unlikely to have been quick or painless. If a chart could be made of ways to die then Srebrenica's dead had ticked off most of the options. Some had gone by their own hand in panicking despair; others in confused gunbattles with their own troops or those of the enemy; many more had surrendered, taking a last long walk in the summer sun to stand in rows with their comrades, the languid working of machine-gun bolts behind them the final sound they heard, except perhaps for a few last whispered words of love or contrition. The Serbs avoided the forest whenever they could. There was still a heavy cult of the dead in the villages of eastern Bosnia, a belief that the spirit hung around the body after death. o the last thing a Serb woodsman would want to do was go into those dark woods alone, especially as most of the locals were, at the very least, complicit in the orgy of killing that had gone on beneath the canopy of leaves. It was not only the Serbs who got the spooks. A recce troop of US soldiers from the NATO forces in Bosnia had been tasked to secure the site of a mass grave so that war crimes investigators could carry out an exhumation. More than a hundred Muslim dead lay buried in the slope of a bank capped by an earthen track leading to the hamlet of Cerska, one of numerous clusters of broken, long-abandoned buildings that huddled within the trees. The Americans were not really expecting trouble, but if it came then fire would be met and--as their staff sergeant states in a way that left no room for doubt--"most certainly overwhelmed" with fire. They had a large array of hardware with them which if put to use could have levelled most of the remaining hamlet ruins and a lot of the forest. Somehow, though, it was the staff sergeant himself who seemed their most threatening asset. He was a large man, down to his last few months in the army, and everything he did and said was coated with the slick confidence and assuredness you find in men comfortably affiliated with taking life in a professional way. He had been a paratrooper for his first tour of Vietnam, a doorgunner with the aircav for his second. His men called him the Anti-Christ and unflinchingly obeyed his every instruction, while senior officers moved about him with wary respect. Yet on the first night of their task, when the time came to send a foot patrol out into the trees, a tall black trooper from Mississippi refused to get out of his Humvee. He said he could hear voices coming from the bottom of the bank where the work of the investigators had scraped away the topsoil to uncover the first few bones. His mama had told him all about that stuff back in Mississippi, he told the staff sergeant. He would soldier against any enemy anywhere in the world, but there was no weapon in their arsenal big enough to deal with what he heard going on down at the bottom of the bank. The other men sort of laughed, but it was a dry sound that quickly faded into the night. There was none of the usual ragging and they shuffled their feet drawing unseen patterns in the stones of the track, not catching one another's eyes. The black trooper chewed his lower lip, hung his head and held out his hands. "No Staff," he mumbled, "I am not fucking around with you." A less experienced commander would have made an issue of forcing the trooper into a position where he would refuse to soldier and his fear would spark among the other men, clouding the mission in the days and nights ahead. But the staff sergeant did not have to prove his authority and, more pertinently, understood the way superstition can grip soldiers in the field. There are certain vibes that even the most modernized army in the world ignores at its peril. So he made the trooper hold his own gaze, broke the connection himself for a few seconds to look into the forest, then looked back into the frightened man's eyes. He ordered to man up to take over the .50 cal mounted on the Humvee and sent the white boys out into the trees. The pressure subsided so fast you could hear it hiss. The war had been over for nine months. There was still enough of it in the atmosphere to fuel my memories and feed a sorrowful nostalgia. I reran the reels of the past four years through my mind feeling depressed, constantly seeking out friends to post-mortem the whole thing again and again in the hope of recapturing even a tiny part of its heady glowing rush, of putting it into some kind of context. The Muslim dead who still lay where they had been killed afforded a direct transfusion back to those times, a link that juiced up the whole engine again. For several days I watched the work of the war crimes team as they dug at Cerska, my brain ceaselessly delving into the past like a tongue probing an ulcer. The smell and the flies got worse each hour but it was the patronizing tone of the team's spokesman that finally did it for me. He seemed incapable of communicating without delivering some holier-than-thou aside, twinning piety with pathology in a mix that would have had a saint reaching for a bucket to throw up in. He could make the connection between the victims at the bottom of the bank and the absent killers that pulled the triggers. Anyone could do that bit. However, the links fell apart between himself and 'the beasts' he demonized. He seemed to think it took something really special to kill prisoners. It was always difficult when people who had not been in the war started voicing their opinions on it. While I loathe the way some men act as if they are a kind of higher being simply because they have seen a bit of action, nothing is guaranteed to anger me more than some Johnny-come-lately who turns up when it is all over and starts getting large with the hows and whys. Listen to some of the revisionist junk being spouted by the post-conflict generation of journalists and NATO representatives in Sarajevo and you being to wonder if they are even talking about the same war. So when a friend of mixed American and Yugoslav blood asked me if I would like to go back into the forest with him to find the body of a relative, I readily agreed. Anything was better than listening to the war crimes spokesman. My friend was fine company, having hung out in Bosnia for much of the war, which meant I could be sure that he would not grate my nerves with sermonizing. He had a Yugoslav's insight and New York humour; throwaway slang and expletives rolled through his dialogue in a combination that cracked you up, the more so as the speaker appeared completely oblivious to how funny they were. A survivor of Srebrenica had given him directions of where his wife's cousin was last seen, apparently already wounded and being carried by two others. Yet the details were typically vague. Never ask a Bosnian where something is. The answer will either be a riddle that takes hours to unravel, or such an unformed generalization you feel embarrassed to ask for further clues. And so it was that the friend and I ended up stumbling around in a vast segment of forest looking for 'a fallen tree'. Of course we never found the dead relative, though there were scores of others there. The dead have never lost their fascination for me. There was a time at the beginning of the war when my curiosity had often been tempered with sorrow, shock or horror at the sight of the state of bodies. Brutal mutilation would stick in my eyes like a thorn for days, or else the expression or posture of a corpse would evoke sadness and anger within me. But as you lose count of the number of dead you have seen, a hidden threshold of sensitivity is raised, neutralizing most of your reactions. Only the curiosity remains. Some of it is borne out of my inability to connect the thought of a living, breathing person with the discarded husk death leaves, even when I have seen the whole transition from life to death. There is no God behind me, and I have strong doubts concerning the existence of a soul these days, but when I look at a corpse it always seems as if there is more than simply life missing. There have been a few disturbing exceptions when death gives more than it takes. It once saw a dead Russian girl. In her early twenties, long haired and lithe, she had caught a bit of shrapnel in her chest, one of those tiny wounds that you would not believe could take a life but does. In death the rude sun-burnish went from her skin, repeating before an ethereal blue glow. Alive she was strikingly pretty. Dead she was so beautiful you could have raised an army to sack Troy just for possession of her casket. I had not wanted to look too far into that reaction within me and walked away from her presence, unnerved for days. Excerpted from My War Gone by, I Miss It So by Anthony Loyd All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.